Paul Cronin

Sad, sad news !

Very sad to see in today’s NABC Final Bulletin that Mike Passell, a member of the ACBL Hall of fame, and winner of over 77,000 MPs, has been placed on probation for 13 months with 25% of his masterpoints removed for an ethical violation. The only direct reference in the very short notice is to “Prearrange a deal or part thereof” (E13), and hopefully there will be clarification of exactly what this was about. The suggested sanction for an E13 violation is “2 years suspension to expulsion” and removal of 25-100% of the disciplined player’s MP holding, so an explanation by the Ethical Oversight Committee as to the apparent leniency of the sanction would be enlightening. I believe the members of the EOC are Peter Boyd, Bart Bramley, Lesley Davis, Jill Meyers and Karen Walker. [UPDATE:: it now appears that there are 15 members of the EOC, and normally 5 of them would be chosen for a specific hearing. I believe that Karen Walker has now stated that she was not on the committee handling this situation].While a committee can go outside the sanction guidelines, it must then explain why it did so. 

Hard not to think of the irony in the following statement made by Mike in April, 2014, when he was writing an account of the “Doctor’s Scandal” in Bali:

“It was a long last day playing against a pair we knew were cheating. It has been an even longer 6 months waiting for justice to be served— for those of you who haven’t read about it, the Doctors have been found guilty of cheating by the WBF.  They have been barred for 10 years from playing, and for life from playing together in WBF events.”

On Tuesday, August 11, 2015 there was a ceremony at the Chicago NABC to award the Carolyn Lynch team, which included Mike Passell, gold medals for winning the d’Orsi Senior trophy in Bali due to the disqualification from first place of the German team for cheating.

The master-points won by Mike in Chicago were

Friday evening                  August 7           3.58

Sunday Flight A Swiss      August 9           3.61

Spingold                                                   50.00

Roth Swiss Teams                                   60.00

for a total of 117.19. But the overall results show the total as 116.10 ???

P.S. Mike has now issued the following statement:

“Here are the facts from my perspective:

Early this year, I played a bracketed Swiss at the Palmetto Regional with Mary Chilcote, Meckwell, and Chris Compton. I sat North and tossed a board on the floor after we had gotten a poor result. Sometime during the next hand I noticed a card sitting face down next to a pocket and inserted it. This was a three-way match, so I thought it prudent to make sure the board was correct before our opponents took the boards to the other table. I counted the cards and found 14 in one hand and 12 in another, so I moved the extra card, which I thought was the one that had fallen out and I had replaced. I should have checked more thoroughly, but I thought I had fixed it. When we compared results, our opponents said there was a fouled board and I realized it was my screwup and owned up to it. They had won 2 IMPs on the board, and we decided to just let that result stand. I should have gone to the director, and I wish I could go back in time and do so.

This was early in the week and I thought nothing of it until the following week when two close friends told me one of my opponents was spreading stories of my “foul play.” About a month later I was contacted by Jim Miller of the ACBL who asked about the incident and I repeated the story exactly as it happened. A short time later I was contacted by Sam Whitten of the ACBL and had the same discussion. I was informed I was to attend a meeting in Chicago of the Ethical Oversight Committee, which I used to be a member of. Both Jim and Sam attended the hearing and testified that I had told them the exact same story. I was told I could bring a representative with me but not a lawyer. I declined, thinking no one could possibly believe I could be stupid enough to change a hand that had already been played.

The end result of my not calling the director was that I was found guilty of four things, most of which I’ve never heard of. The most significant seems to be “prearranging a deal or part thereof,” which I still don’t know exactly what it means or how it pertains to what happened. Apparently it carries with it a mandatory penalty of 13 months probation and 25% of total masterpoints. However, I was found NOT GUILTY of cheating, and I was told the public statement would make this clear. Yet, now I see the statement reads like I was found guilty of cheating and given a lenient sentence. I am 100% not guilty of anything other than stupidity. I have a spotless five-decade record; I never have and never would cheat the game I love. I feel my reputation has been damaged and am extremely hurt. I have every interest in getting all the facts out, so I welcome all questions from Bridge Winners users; I have nothing to hide.”


Bill CubleyAugust 17th, 2015 at 5:22 pm

Someone long ago mentioned the brilliance of Terrence Reese and wondered why he cheated when he was so clearly superior to his opponents.

Bill CubleyAugust 19th, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Mike had posted on Bridgewinners. His punishment is totally out of proportion for what he did at a regional. He put a loose card in the wrong hand after the played board was dropped onto the floor.

Jerry RanneySeptember 23rd, 2015 at 12:17 am

I have played against Mike on a number of situations, and feel he is one of the most ethical players in our game of bridge. I feel this ruling was absurd and makes me question how anyone could possible justify this ridiculous penalty for an innocent, perhaps careless, error.

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